A criminal record negatively impacts all aspects of your life. Whether you’re looking for work, getting a certification or license, or getting accepted into college or graduate school, your criminal background may hinder you. Fortunately, you can take steps to clear up some or all of your convictions.
Michigan allows you to expunge certain felonies and misdemeanors. In 2021, Michigan's Clean Slate expungement law was enacted. Michigan's Clean Slate expungement statute greatly expanded who and what crimes are eligible for an expungement.
What Does Expungement Mean?
Expungement is the setting aside of your felony or misdemeanor convictions. In other words, if you get a conviction expunged, it’s erased. It should no longer appear on public databases nor be accessible by most employers. Likewise, some people refer to expungement as cleaning up your record.
When Am I Eligible To Get My Convictions Expunged?
It depends. You must wait until the court no longer has jurisdiction over you. In other words, you must wait until you’ve completed your jail, prison, or probation sentence. Once the court’s jurisdiction ends, you must wait five years before applying to expunge your felony. However, you’ll only have to wait three years to expunge non-serious misdemeanors. Non-serious misdemeanors are misdemeanors that:
the court punishes by less than 91 days in jail
have a maximum fine not greater than $1000 and
occurred when you were not older than 21
On the contrary, if these elements don’t apply, you have a serious misdemeanor. You’ll have to wait five years after completing your sentence for a serious misdemeanor, as you would for a felony, to apply for Clean Slate. The law for automatic record sealing for non-violent crimes are not effective until December 30, 2022. Once it becomes effective, your criminal record seals automatically to expunge misdemeanor convictions and ten years for felony convictions, if you remain conviction-free for seven years.
Also noteworthy, if a judge denies your expungement then you’ll have to wait three years before re-applying.
What Can I Get Expunged With Michigan Clean Slate Law?
Today, Michigan holds that if the crime you committed is legal today, there’s a presumption that the court should accept your expungement request. Michigan estimates that about 250,000 residents who have marijuana-related convictions will benefit from this rule. However, not all marijuana-related convictions fall into the category of what would be legal today. Some marijuana convictions might remain on your record unless state law changes. Most traffic violations and marijuana convictions are eligible for record sealing. You may even get certain assault crimes erased if you aren’t petitioning to expunge more than two of them.
One Bad Night Rule
Suppose you had a wild and crazy night. This night may have ended with officers arresting you. A prosecutor may have charged you with multiple felonies, multiple misdemeanors, or both. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes otherwise law-abiding, productive citizens get reckless for one night. Such a night can haunt you for years. Thankfully, Michigan’s new law takes this uncharacteristic night of yours into account and has added the one bad night rule to its policy.
If your convictions happened within 24 hours of each other, they are likely eligible for expungement. This is true even if you have several felony and misdemeanor convictions. Michigan’s Clean Slate law counts them as a single felony or a single misdemeanor so that you may get them expunged.
However, exceptions do apply. For example, a judge won’t expunge your convictions from a bad night if they involved:
a crime involving assault
a crime that can be punishable by ten or more years of imprisonment
Because nuances apply, speak with your lawyers about whether your convictions fall under the one bad night rule.
What Can’t I Get Expunged?
Not every conviction is eligible for an expungement in Michigan under the Clean Slate law. For example, crimes punishable by a life sentence are never eligible. The court won’t erase certain convictions because of their nature. For example, if you have a DUI, there’s a likelihood that the public is at greater risk of harm if the court erased this conviction, regardless of whether it was a felony or misdemeanor. When crafting new laws, courts and law must also consider the public’s interest. In this case, the public is concerned that a trucking company can hire you as a driver because there’s no record of your DUI. If the company hires you, you may be more likely to hit and kill someone because you previously chose to drive while under the influence.
Below is a non-comprehensive list of convictions you can’t set aside. Most ineligible convictions are:
convictions punishable by a maximum of a life sentence
human and sex trafficking
convictions involving sexual offenses, such as rape, child molestation, and sexual assault
DUIs when it’s not your first offense
traffic violations that end in someone’s injury or death
some domestic violence convictions where the first conviction was a misdemeanor and the second is a felony
a second felony for the same crime when it’s punishable by more than ten years
What Is The Expungement Process?
Cleaning up your record can take months or even a year once you begin. Each court moves at their own pace and has their own policies. Generally, the Michigan State Police and Attorney General take two or three months to review your eligibility and conduct a background check once we turn in your application. Thereafter, you’ll have a hearing date in court. The process for an automatic expungement is different.
Regarding automatic expungement, the court will not automatically seal your conviction if it’s:
a crime involving assault
a serious misdemeanor
a crime involving dishonesty, such as fraud or forgery
a crime that’s punishable by more than ten years
a crime involving trafficking
How Can JC Justice Center Help Me?
Clearly, the expungement process in Michigan can be tedious. If you submit the wrong files, fill out the wrong form, or omit something important, the judge may deny your application. To prevent any unnecessary mistakes, it’s in your best interest to hire an elite Michigan criminal defense lawyer that knows the Clean Slate law like the back of his hand.